THE RISE OF THE KRAYS (2015) Reviews and overview



The Rise of the Krays is a 2015 British true-crime thriller about two twins that unleash a psychotic reign of terror in London’s East End.

Directed by Zackary Adler (The Courier; Rise of the Footsoldier 3; The Fall of the Krays) from a screenplay co-written by Ken Brown and Sebastian Brown (The Fall of the Krays).

The Saracen Films-Torn Pictures production stars Kevin Leslie, Simon Cotton, Phil Dunster, Danny Midwinter, Dan Parr and Alexa Morden.



“Obviously, there were many erroneous decisions made when this was given the green light…but, it is not a terrible film…it’s not a great film (far from it)… it’s all very drama-school […] Adler’s direction is ambitious…but, overly ebullient – you can almost hear his excitement as each scene is filmed…” CGiii

“Simon Cotton and Kevin Leslie are ideally cast, convincing in outstanding performances as Ronnie and Reggie, while James Weber Brown plays Leslie, the dogged copper on their case. Ken Brown and Sebastian Brown manage a credible, vibrant, informative, real-seeming screenplay, with good dialogue. Adler’s direction is commendable, sharp and spare.” Derek Winnert

The Rise of the Krays does a good job of putting you in 1950s/1960s Britain with set designs that look and feel authentic, and although the film touches on a lot – but not all – of the known stories about the twins it doesn’t really dwell on anything for too long or in a glamourous way […] probably the most credible dramatisation of the Kray twins’ story…” Flickering Myth

“Simon Cotton makes his acting debut here playing a psychotic, domineering Ronnie Kray. The inexperienced Cotton actually handles the part compitantly, and with this over-the-top take on the character, the overacting isn’t quite as noticeable. Kevin Leslie plays brother Reggie, and again, does a decent job performing the ruthless gangster.” Influx

“The story rushes through the initial rise and then comes to a shuddering halt as Ronnie Kray starts to show signs of mental illness. This leads to conflict between the brothers and some slow-motion scenes of Ronnie going insane. Coupled with some fight scenes (again in slow motion) the film just slumps.” Moviescramble

“Zackary Adler fetishises the violence using excessive slo-mo and lots of grisly close-ups of wounds while turning the siblings themselves into two-dimensional caricatures. The miscast leads lack screen presence, with Simon Cotton’s Ronnie more risible than fearsome as he broods through his eyebrows, and Kevin Leslie utterly bland in what feels like a supporting role as Reggie.” Radio Times

Cast and characters (in credits order):

Matt Vael … Harvey
Simon Cotton … Ronnie Kray
Kevin Leslie … Reggie Kray
Olivia Moyles … Verna
Phil Dunster … Dickie
Dan Parr … Teddy
Kris Sommerville … PC Blake
Danny Midwinter … Detective Inspector “Nipper” Read
Maurice Lane … The Regal Landlord
Alexa Morden … Lisa
Simon Merrells … Jack Spot
Tim Chipping … Sam
Georg Nikoloff … Vittor
Nicola Stapleton … Violet Kray
Dean Roberts … Marshall
Scott Mahoney … Banks
Matthew Mellalieu … Donovan
Sandy Batchelor … Ian Barrie
Anita Dobson … Madge
Nicola Taggart … Frances Shea
George Brockbanks … Frank Shea
Philip Prajoux … Sergio
Nathanjohn Carter … Harry Mooney
Venitia Twigg … Sergio’s Wife
Tom Ziebell … Bobby Ramsey
Richard Goss … Tommy Taylor
Jonny James … Jacky Taylor
Colin Wallace … Police Warden
Alex Marx … Club owner
James Weber Brown … Leslie
Keith Hatcher … Club Manager
John Burke … David Litvinoff
Wayne de Strete … Joe the Boxer
Vass Anderson … Tom Driberg
Carol Noakes … Prime Minister’s secretary
Terence Booth … Prime Minister
Christopher Wright … Police Commissioner
Jeremy Gagan … Home Secretary
David Sparks … Leader of the opposition
Joe Sangre … Casino owner
Frank Jakeman … Solicitor


The film was apparently well into development when the producers learned of the existence of Legend (2015), a rival production starring Tom Hardy as both Ron and Reggie Kray.


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